WASHINGTON, Dec. 7, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- The Foundation for the National Archives announced today that the Verizon Foundation will be lead sponsor of the National Archives' 150 th Anniversary celebration of the Emancipation Proclamation. The Verizon Foundation has presented the Foundation for the National Archives with a $150,000 grant in support of the anniversary celebration, which kicks off a year-long series of events and programs at the Archives. These activities include special exhibits of President Abraham Lincoln's original Emancipation Proclamation, as well as related family activities, panel discussions, author lectures and film programs. A Host Committee for the year-long celebration will be chaired by Congressman and civil rights leader John Lewis. "We are thrilled that the Verizon Foundation has agreed to serve as lead sponsor of this exciting year of 150 th Anniversary events celebrating one of the most important documents of American history," said A'Lelia Bundles, President of the Foundation for the National Archives. "This generous gift will enable the Foundation to support our partners at the National Archives by promoting the rare display of President Lincoln's original Emancipation Proclamation and introducing new audiences to the incredible work of the Archives." Verizon's sponsorship will support the Foundation's efforts to publicize the anniversary year events and to develop related educational resources. Rose Stuckey Kirk, president of the Verizon Foundation, said, "The issuance of the Emancipation Proclamation stands as one of the defining moments during a tumultuous period in our nation's history. We at Verizon are honored to support the celebration of the 150 th anniversary of this historic document." The Emancipation Proclamation was issued by President Lincoln on January 1, 1863, during the American Civil War, formally proclaiming the freedom of all slaves held in areas still in revolt. The Proclamation clarified and strengthened the position of the Union government, decreased the likelihood of European support of the Confederacy and, as the Union armies extended their occupation of the southern states, brought freedom to the slaves in those states. The Proclamation also invited black men to join the Union Army and Navy, resulting in the enlistment of approximately 200,000 African Americans before the war's end. Although the Emancipation Proclamation did not end slavery throughout the nation, it placed the issue squarely on top of the wartime agenda. It added moral force to the Union cause and was a significant milestone leading to the ratification of the 13th Amendment to the Constitution in 1865, formally outlawing slavery nationwide.